COMMUNIST New People’s Army rebels have staged 62 attacks against civilian and military targets this year, putting into question their sincerity in pursuing peace negotiations with government.
These terroristic activities include abduction, burning or arson, extortion, ambush and harassment against both civilians and military members,” said Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the military’s public affairs office, said.
Arevalo said the rebel attacks continued even after March 12 when negotiators from the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the government announced an agreement to resume formal peace talks.
He said the attacks include the burning of a passenger bus in Makilala town in North Cotabato last March 13. The following day, the NPA also burned a delivery van owned by the Fighter Wine Company in San Fernando, Bukidnon.
On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, NPA rebels indiscriminately fired their firearms in Barangay Hinimbangan, Kitcharao town in Agusan del Norte, displacing 89 families or 357 civilians, said Arevalo.
President Duterte terminated formal peace talks and lifted the government’s unilateral truce with the communist movement last February 4 following a series of rebel attacks.
“While the AFP sees that the NDF continues to push for the resumption of the peace negotiations, it is clear that they are also losing hold of their men on the ground. The NPAs, with their twisted ideals, are attacking innocent civilians, extorting money or burning private properties,” added Arevalo.
Arevalo said the military will continue its offensive operations against the NPA, in keeping with Duterte’s lifting of the government truce, unless it receives an official order from the President to suspend the all-out war.
Since February 4, Arevalo said, “surgical, deliberate, and intelligence-driven” military operations against the NPA have resulted in the killing of 23 rebels and the arrest of 19 others.
Also, Arevalo said 87 rebels have surrendered and 83 firearms were recovered during the same period.
Arevalo also said 13 soldiers were killed and 36 others were wounded since February 4. Three soldiers were also abducted.